Flying Kites

It’s the last wave and smile. 

It’s the oversized backpack filled with snow pants. 

It’s independence.

I drove to work crying today, again. 

It’s not a daily occurrence. It’s something that happens on certain days. 

You see, due to a parental scheduling error, my son has been without before school care at his elementary school since the New Year. 

As with most things in life, there are benefits and drawbacks to this situation.

Good: Kids get to sleep in a little. They choose not to of course, but they have the option.

Bad: Mom and Dad get to work later than they’d like.

Good: More time with the kids at home. They have breakfast, watch shows, and getting out the door is a little less hectic.

Very Bad: Dad has to drop off with other parents for kindergarten.

Dropping the kids off is typically Mom’s job, mostly due to work schedule and location.

If you’re a parent, you are most likely thinking, oh it’s a nightmare waiting in line every day to drop off your child for school.

I am not here to tell you that you’re wrong, but it’s not what makes it bad for this Dad.

I’ve come to realize through almost six years of being a parent that your children are like kites. 

Yes, kites, stick with me on this one.

In the beginning, you work to get your kite airborne. Pushing for milestones. Taking ultimate pride in the milestones they hit early. Rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, talking, potty training, these are things that mean the wind is picking up and your kite is going to fly.

The first day we dropped my oldest off at daycare he was three months old. I wore sunglasses the entire time, hoping that they would hide the uncertainty, sadness, and tears on my face.

In reality, it made me look like a douchebag. More accurately, a sad douchebag.

That was the day that it struck me. The end of the line that holds my kite, is not attached to the spool in my hand. The line is roughly 18 years long.

The day will come when the last bit of line detaches and I’ll be left with an empty spool with nothing to do but watch the kite fly on its own.

This has created a severe cognitive dissonance for me. 

There are things we do as parents that feel taxing at that moment.

Pushing them on the swing, for example. When you are doing it for the thousandth time, it becomes so monotonous. So, you start educating them on how to swing by themselves. Thinking, if I let out a little more line off the spool, I won’t have to stand here and push them anymore. 

You tell them how to move their legs. They do it wrong. You try to correct. They do it wrong and get frustrated. Then you get frustrated that they won’t try. You say, “if you’re not going to have fun at the park then I guess we’ll just go home.” They cry, so you tell them they can play for 5 more minutes, convinced you’ll have the only child that never learned how to use a swing.

Then one day, out of nowhere, they can swing on their own. That section of line that you so desperately wanted off the spool is off. There is no getting it back. The pang hits you in the sternum when you realize, you never have to push them on the swing again. 

The problem is, the word “have” changed to get.

You’re not sure how it happened but it is there as clear as day. 

You never get to push them on the swing again. 

All you want is to pull the line back in just a little. Just for a minute. Just one more time. 

The spool doesn’t work like that on these kites. 

This is why this morning… and yesterday morning… and a few more over the past week and a half, I drove out of the parking lot with tears rolling down my cheeks. I look at other parents driving out of the parking lot muttering “what the fuck is wrong with you people?” as I notice no one else is crying.

They are moving on with their day and not having an existential crisis.

After he stops, smiles, and waves to me (ugh, the wave is a punch to the gut), he runs to catch up with friends with his backpack bouncing back and forth on his shoulders. I remind myself that this is a good thing. It’s good that he doesn’t need me to walk him in, find his locker, put his backpack away, and go to class. I am doing a pretty good job at flying my kite. 

It helps a little. Eventually, the book that I am listening to in the car distracts me and the sadness fades.

What’s more, I have two kites, which allows me to recognize these important spots in my daughter’s line and cherish them. 

However, too soon, she’ll be the one smiling and waving as she walks into kindergarten. 

All I can do is continue to fly my kites. Keep them away from trees, houses, and powerlines so when the day comes, they’re able to soar.

Until that day, should you need me, I’ll be the idiot crying while flying kites.

Cheers.

Hot Timmy Summer

I’ve hated myself for a long time.

Wait, let me rephrase that.

I’ve hated my body for as long as I can remember.

I can remember hating the start of football as a kid because the pants never fit right. I’ve hated shopping my entire life because trying on clothes would give me anxiety and leave me in a depressed state. 

I’ve had stretch marks on my stomach since high school. 

Then college happened. People talked about “the freshman 15”, but my body misheard that and went after the freshman 50. 

Since college, I have battled with my weight constantly. Losing some, gaining more back. A decade ago I lost 60 pounds and gained it all back (and some). 

I got to a point where I justified it. 

The worst part of my day was getting out of the shower and being forced to see myself. I told myself, “this is just who you are.” The echoes of people calling me “big guy” and other names pointed out the fact that not only was I big, but everyone knew it. 

I even got my Covid vaccine early because I was obese. Talk about bitter-sweet.

I have pretended to be confident in myself and how I look every day.

Fake it ‘til you make it. Right?

Then, on April 12th as I was sitting down to eat a plate full of air-fried popcorn shrimp and mozzarella sticks, I saw an ad for Noom. 

It advertised a psychological approach to weight loss. Something that piqued my interest as a guy with a Psychology degree. 

One of the first questions was, “what is your goal weight?”

A lot less than my weight now, I thought.

They wanted a specific number. I knew that if it was going to work, I needed to be specific in a meaningful way. Something that was special to me. 

The neat thing about my birthday, October 8th. Is that is the day that I nervously asked my wife to go out with me when we were in Junior High. 

Now I can’t be certain about this, but my educated guess was that I have not weighed less than 200 pounds since my freshman year of high school in 1999. And since college, I have essentially been pregnant on and off like an Irish Catholic woman. 

It clicked.

I am going to weigh 199.8 pounds on my birthday.

That meant that the task in front of me was to lose 64 pounds in 179 days. 

What was the first thing I did?

I ate the mozzarella sticks and popcorn shrimp, duh. 

A last meal of sorts. I’ve got to say it was almost a sexual experience. I dream about that “meal” sometimes.

I got obsessed with my weight loss goal. If you saw me walking (yes, I walk 2 miles every day at lunch) or on my stationary bike, it would look like I was talking to myself. 

I repeat two things over and over and over.

“One ninety-nine” and, my mantra, “I can. I will. End of story.”

The weight melted off in the first month and a half.

This gave birth to “Hot Timmy Summer”.

If you saw me this summer, you may have heard me promoting Hot Timmy Summer. 

From the outside, it probably sounded stupid or self-indulgent, but it was about me embracing myself and being confident in myself as a human, not just faking it.

If people asked if they should do something, my answer was, “go for it! It’s Hot Timmy Summer, celebrate your power.”

In the beginning, I held on to anger inside me. I’d hear the people making jokes about my weight over the course of my life. I’d see their faces and hold on to it through a difficult workout or when I really wanted a piece of pizza but didn’t want to mess up my progress.

Hot Timmy Summer changed all that.

It started when I was going to my brother’s house and going swimming in the pool. The pool that was put in when I lived there in 1998. I have had a routine since the first day I swam in it.

I would put a towel close to the stairs. I would pick a time when people weren’t paying close attention to me, quickly take off my shirt, and jump in. Then, when it was time to get out, I’d go straight to the towel and cover up as quickly as possible.

I would do this even if it was just my family around the pool. I just figured they had to be at least as disgusted as I was in how I looked without a shirt on. 

This summer, I realized how ridiculous that is. 

I decided that I was out of fucks to give when it came to what people thought about me. Thus,  Hot Timmy Summer was born.

So, how’d it go?

Well, today is my birthday and the official end of Hot Timmy Summer. 

I stepped on the scale this morning and it showed 198.4 pounds. 

I am down just over 65 pounds in 179 days. 

I am not done yet, I have adjusted the goal and will lose another 14 pounds, just so I can say I am at the normal weight (according to the BMI charts). 

This morning, I took a moment to pat myself on the back and enjoy it.

First and foremost, I did it for my wife and my children. They deserve a husband/dad that loves himself enough to take care of himself. 

I did it for previous versions of myself that would look in the mirror and cry. The guy that would look in the mirror and say terrible things to the reflection. For the teenage Tim who cried in a Hollister dressing room because nothing fit. 

I did it because life is too short not to love yourself. 

It took me 36 years to learn that lesson.

Maybe you’re reading this and have had some of the same thoughts or feelings. 

It’s never too late to work on and improved yourself in whatever way you want. 

Fuck what other people may say or think about you.

You can. You will. End of story. 

Cheers.

The First Step

Odds are, if you’re reading this, than this post probably isn’t essential reading for you.

Great opening line, right?

I know my audience, so I am just making an educated guess. However, many of the people that are inclined to read the things I write here know people that could use this and if this reaches just one of those people, it will be worth it.

Alright, there we go. Everyone else is gone. It’s just you and me now. You decided you’d stick around to read whatever crazy radical left point-of-view because we are all kind of addicted to the stuff that makes us mad on the internet.

I’m glad you’re here. Let’s rip off the band-aid.

You have privilege. You were born with it. I know, I know, it stings… breathe, it will get better.

Very few know more privilege than I do. I’m a white, upper-middle class, college educated (paid for by my father… who is a doctor), male in the United States of America.

And since you’re here the odds are extremely high that you have checked some of those same boxes.

Wait! Wait! Wait!

Don’t go.

Having this mirror held up to your face is uncomfortable, I know it is for me. It makes you feel like you should have done more. I know that I do, daily. In no way am I saying that you didn’t struggle at some point or at many points throughout.

I do not doubt that you have overcome obstacles and hardships in your life. I don’t doubt that you have had disadvantages. I don’t doubt that you could easily prove that my life has been vastly easier than yours.

Have a seat with me. Let’s play some cards.

If it were a game of Texas Hold Em, I’d have pocket kings, suited and you’d have jacks, also suited. I’ve definitely got the upper hand, but you could be crafty and beat me. Hell, you wouldn’t even need to be crafty, just a slight bit of luck and you are taking me down.

And if everybody else at the table were white, they’d all be dealt solid hands and we’d all have a good time beating each other here or there and watch the money flow around the table.

Now, imagine that at the empty seat a black person sits down. All night, they are going to be dealt 2-7 off suit. They can still win, but it is going to be a long, difficult grind for them to get there. Unfortunately, the odds tell us, they are going to lose and after a long night of getting terrible cards they will be furious. They are going to yell and point out that the deck was stacked in our favor.

They might even get so mad that they flip the entire table over. Breaking the table, scattering our chips on the floor, mixing them up so that you and I lose some of the money we had won, fairly, by playing the same game at the same table.

This is where we are now in our country.

We don’t get to be mad because our table is broken, the cards are scattered, and we lost a bit of money.

We were playing the same game, yes, but we didn’t choose our table. We were placed here, just like they were.

Our job right now is to talk to the dealer. Tell the security guard to stop roughing the other guy up. Talk to the pit boss. Talk to the manager. Scream up at the owner’s penthouse, and demand to know what they are going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

This is how we move forward as a country. We need to call everybody that we come across on their bullshit.

Nothing is going to change quickly. It is going to take a long time to deconstruct something that has been built over centuries.

Right now we are at a fork in the road. One direction is the same way we have always gone, it’s paved, well lit, and safe (for us). But, maybe if the things I have written make any kind of sense, you have already taken a step toward the other path by simply acknowledging your privilege.

As you look up from your shoes, the new path looks dark and overgrown.

The good news is, you won’t be alone. We can all do it together.

We are probably going to zig-zag all over the place trying to get through the thorny branches, but together we will get through. And when our children encounter this same fork in the road the path will be clear and they’ll have a chance to pave it.

2020 is clearly going to be a year that history books will have to reserve chapters for, let’s all take the path to be on the right side of that history.

Cheers.

An Open Letter to My Son

Dear Jude,

I write this letter with a heavy heart. Last night, Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States. You, of course, slept peacefully as the results came in across the country, incapable of understanding what was taking place.

This morning, you woke up smiling as I pulled you from your crib. Blissfully ignorant to the divide in our country. I have never been so jealous.

Despite telling myself that I need to stay off of social media, I could not help myself. Reactions of people all over the world range from shock and fear to elation and pride.

I started  on the shock and fear side.

See, for me, this election was about so much more than Republican versus Democrat. Conservative versus Liberal. Right versus Left.

With you in my life, this is the first election where I felt the pressure of your generation weighing down on me. I had an honest concern for the world that you will grow up in. It is not because of conservative policy or what is best for our country’s economy. It is not about trade agreements and foreign policy.

It is something far more simple and basic.

I don’t want you to grow up thinking that there are human beings that are worth less than others. I don’t want you to think Muslim = Terrorist. Black = Criminal. Woman = Object. Gay = Wrong.

What happened here is that people got sick of “the establishment” and the status quo. They wanted an outsider that wasn’t a politician (although, I would argue that when one runs for political office they then inherently become a politician). These people put their blinders on to the xenophobic, racist, bigoted, and misogynistic ideals that Mr. Trump stands for.

Let me be clear, a vote for Donald Trump does not mean that those people share the same views of other human beings (some of them do). But, they did choose to ignore those views.

Only time will tell if that ends up being worse than sharing those views.

I woke up with fear but that subsided quickly. For one simple reason.

No matter how bad things may seem, there is always love. When people attempt to spew hate, spread more love. Love will always win.

So, I promise you this today.

I will not allow the hate that exists today in.

Together, we will move forward.

I will teach you to love and respect all people regardless of their religion.

I will teach you that love is love, whether it is straight, gay or lesbian.

I will teach you that you respect the women in your life. No exceptions.

I will teach you that what a woman does with her body is her business. No exceptions.

I will teach you that even though people have different ideas on how our country will be run best (even if those ideas cause them to vote for a person such as Mr. Trump) that you respect and love them.

We will move forward. We will fight to ensure our country is not set back. We will create a bright future for you. And, I will rest easy knowing that you understand that hate and fear mongering are no way to get ahead.

I only hope that when you are old enough to read this that irreparable damage has not been done. Because even if Mr. Trump’s policies mean good things for the economy, it will be worthless if there are people who are marginalized, oppressed, or discriminated against.

We will continue to fight to make sure that doesn’t happen.

With Love,

Your Father

Cheers.

 

Seventeen Years

Seventeen years ago, today, I asked my wife to “go out with me.”

Today is also my birthday (thanks for remembering).

Here’s the thing. When I was younger and birthdays still kind of mattered, it always irritated me that our “anniversary” fell on my birthday. I am not proud of having felt this way and I regret the years that I didn’t mention it or buy something for my girlfriend.

Now, the “anniversary” is less important, so to speak, since our wedding anniversary falls on a completely different day. But, as I have grown up and we have continued our life together, my birthday has gained significance for me again.

This year seems especially important since we now have an amazing child together.

I don’t think that my fifteen-year-old self could have ever imagined what life would be like seventeen years later. In fact, I am pretty sure my fifteen-year-old self never thought about much more than 5 minutes in the future. But, I sure would like to travel back in time and give him a hug for having the courage to whisper, “will you go out with me?” in my wife’s ear.

We all have moments in our life that we look back on with regret. I know I have lots of them and, lately, they seem to be clouding my brain in a fog of negativity. Humans tend to focus on the negatives and the missed shots in their life.

Today, I get to celebrate the best shot that I took and made.

Nothing but net.

Little did I know standing in the hallway of Franklin Junior High that I was making the best choice of my entire life. Which is obvious by my countless attempts to mess it up over the years that would follow.

For some reason, my wife stuck with me through the bad times and now I am able to reflect on the woman that my wife has become. It has been nothing short of amazing.

It has been nothing short of amazing.

See, I have remained relatively the same. Aside from some disgusting weight fluctuations, I remain the remarkably average guy that I have always been. There isn’t all that much that is impressive about me. I have the same sense of humor that I did when I was fifteen. I remain relatively average in most other facets of my life.

Except for my wife and son.

Over the past seventeen years, my wife has turned into a woman. Dare I say, a sexy woman.

When I look at it now, in hindsight, it is awe inspiring and beautiful.

Professionally, she is a force. A strong, confident woman that gets things done. Everyone that works for her loves her. I am astounded by her drive daily.

As a mother, she is nothing short of incredible. She is attentive, patient, and loving every minute of the day. Even when she is covered with spit up at five in the morning, she seems to appreciate the moment and enjoy it. Even when she is exhausted and her nerves are fried due to a lack of sleep, you wouldn’t know it when she is interacting with our son.

Finally, as a wife. Well, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe what she means to me. Day in and day out, she loves me despite my many flaws. She is the reason I am the man that I am today. She is the reason that I smile when things seem to be going bad. She is the reason that I am able to get out of bed every day.

So, if you have made it this far, what’s the point?

First, I just feel like everyone should know that I have an amazing wife.

But, more importantly, I know that I am not alone in having a moment in my life that I can look on and point at as a time where my life changed for the better.

Rather than focusing on the things that did not go as planned. Focus on the time they went perfect and be grateful for that moment.

I know that today when I look at my wonderful wife and son, I will be.

Cheers.